Definition of the Legal-Historical Method — showing something is true (according to some legal standard, e.g. preponderance of the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.) by offering available data as evidence. Three types of data are used in the courtroom:
- Oral Testimony includes eyewitness accounts of the event and other personal testimony bearing on the matter in question.
- Written testimony. History is the written testimony of eyewitnesses and can be used, unless shown to be biased or inaccurate, as evidence of past events.
- Physical exhibits. Any physical evidence available can also be presented to verify the facts that are in question. Forensic science can be used in the examination of exhibits to produce additional information. This analysis is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems; especially: scientific analysis of physical evidence (as from a crime scene).” This method of analysis is distinct from operational science but is often confused with it .
What is The Appropriate Method for Proving the Resurrection?
Because the operational scientific method requires repeating an event in a controlled environment, it is clearly not appropriate for use in proving or disproving:
- Existence of persons in history.
- Occurrence of past events in history
The existence of an historical figure, like Napoleon Bonaparte or Jesus Christ, cannot be proven by repeating the events of his life. We just cannot travel back in time (although it would be nice if we could). For those situations, the legal-historical method is used to verify such facts in exactly the same way we prove something in a court of law. Testimony and exhibits are presented in an attempt to show to a reasonable certainty that the fact in question is accurate as presented. Forensic analysis of any available physical exhibits may provide circumstantial evidence.